Sunday, September 21, 2008

They Love Those Mousies

The Kitty Girls have been so busy catching mousies. Melody gets the ones inside and Grace gets the ones outside. We live in the woods in what was once a summer cabin that was converted to a 'year round' house. But if you don't like critters, it's no place for you. We have regular encounters with raccoons, opossums, skunks and deer as well as the usual spiders and mice. The girls know to stay away from all those other critters, especially the ones with teeth and stinkies.

There is no way to make the house critter-proof, really, not in this environment. I'd have to rebuild the entire house and that is not feasible. Fortunately the Girls are good mousers. They hunt even though they are well-fed. It's a natural instinct. When they catch something, they try to bring it to mommy to eat. Ugh! I know they do it because they love me and want to return the favor of feeding me like I feed them. I love that special sound they make when they are calling me.

Many years ago I had a cat named Amy who snuck out and got pregnant before I could get her spayed. She had 4 lovely kittens which I kept because I felt so guilty about her having babies in the first place. Anyway, when Amy was training them, she used to get her cat food out of the dish and bring it in the living room. She'd put it on the floor and start making that calling sound to round up her babies. Then she would start playing with her food, throwing it up in the air and pouncing on it. They would watch and do the same. This was how she trained them to hunt even though they lived indoors. I had never seen a cat do that before and it was very interesting to watch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Melody's Story

You can't see me because I'm hiding behind the grass.

Several years ago, my friend's daughter (T) worked at a veterinary office. She used to catch feral cats, bring them into the office, have them neutered, then either find homes for them, or release them.

I went to visit my friend, and her daughter said "maybe Hamida would like one of the kittens." Having no intention of getting another cat, but wanting to encourage her humanitarian (felinitarian?) work, I went in to the bathroom where the kittens were being kept. My first impression - oh, no,ugly kittens. You know, some kittens are just not as cute as others. Two of them were white and spotted (my least favorite color), skinny (having just been captured) and WILD! In fact, one actually started flying around the room, hissing and scratching. TOTALLY WILD!!! Uh, I don't think so. But I stayed and spoke calmly to them and finally they settled down. Finally the most wild of all, settled down with her siblings, but was still quite nervous. I continued to speak calmly to them and all of a sudden, the wild one sort of looked at me, tilted her head slightly, and I heard the name Melody.

I said, "Is that your name, Melody?" She sort of grinned the way cats do and started purring! Oh, Melody.

I told my friend what had happened and she said I had a way with cats, because I have Virgo rising. Did I want Melody? I said I would have to ask Grace if she wanted a baby sister. After all. She had lost all her older sisters and was all alone now, which suited her just fine.

I kept talking to her about getting a "baby" to play with and after a few days, she started running around the house looking for her "baby sister."

I went to visit the kittens again and the suggested I take the male who was not as wild. I said "No, I want this one." I picked up Melody and walked into the kitchen with her and they could not believe their eyes. The wildest one was in my arms, happy as a clam. But I still had not committed to taking her.

My friend said that since I had named her and picked her up, she was much happier and calm. No longer flying into a tizzy every time someone came in. I said OK, I'll take her, but can't come for a couple of days.

Then I got the call. Melody had gotten out of the bathroom and had run away. They were so sorry, but they could not catch her.

Oh well, that's the way it goes. No problem. But by now, Grace was excited about getting a baby and was nagging me about it. I told her Melody had run away and that was that.

Three days later, they had the back door open when suddenly Melody ran back in! And back to the bathroom!

We arranged for T to bring her to my house in a couple of days. When Melody arrived, she ran straight for the bathroom. She went under the claw-footed tub and there she stayed. Okay, fine, good place to stay until you feel comfortable. I put the food and water under the tub and she stayed right there.

About a week later, I found her on my bed, great, making progress. No. She peed on my bed, hit the roof, came down and bit me. Not good. I was getting frustrated.

She ran back under the tub. I couldn't reach her. I could only barely touch an inch of fur. So.... I petted her aura. Yes, you heard me. I just stroked the area near her without touching her and she purred. We did this routine every day. After two weeks, I said that this was okay, but not really acceptable and if things did not improve, I was going to catch her and take her back to T's.

She got it and started coming into the kitchen to eat. Slowly, slowly, she became accustomed to me and trusted me. She came and went and became one of the family.

Now, she is one of the sweetest, most affectionate cats I've ever had. She loves to get up on my shoulder and rub her head along my neck. She sleeps with me most of the time. She is quiet, clean, cooperative. She either eats what's there or not, but does not complain or beg. She is a good mouser (important in the country). She loves being warm and loves to sit in the sun. But, I know white cats are at risk for skin cancer, so I limit her time sunbathing. She adores running up into the trees and will often go from tree to tree like a trapeze artist, while I am working out in the garden. She has perches in certain trees, where she goes to observe the world below. She is a darling and I love her so much.